Dr. John Psarouthakis
We must recognize that the development and deployment of new technology is only one part of our competitiveness problem. Technology may, in fact, not be the primary or most important factor in regaining manufacturing competitiveness. Perhaps foremost among these other factors is a lack of ability in managing the manufacturing enterprise.
There are a number of ways in which our managerial shortcomings manifest themselves.
One is that many accepted management structures and practices do not interface well with advanced manufacturing technology. The product and process flexibility of new technologies, the linking together of different operational nodes on an electronic network, and the “knowledge-embededness” of the new technologies tends to make a traditional “bureaucratic” command structure obsolete. There is a much greater emphasis on inter-functional and interdepartmental integration in the organization of the future,as well as less of a need for hierarchy and accompanying rigid status structure. There is a requirement for multi-skilled employees, and greater responsibilities must be given to each of them than is required by task specialization.
Continue reading Managing the Manufacturing Enterprise
Dr. John Psarouthakis
During the recent four decades we find ourselves in an accelerating, globally-interconnected, knowledge and technology driven times full of opportunities driven these accelerating knowledge and technologies, with ever more open national borders.
As the information and technology advancements gather momentum, society will, as always, look to university graduates, faculty, and staff for fundamental research, and for creative understanding and application of the knowledge they generate and engaging business, industry, governments, and other social institutions in new endeavors of learning, research, and problem solving. This will be an important element of the leading universities of the future.
Continue reading KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER PLATFORM
Dr. David Cole is the Chairman of AutoHarvest (autoharvest.org), a web based tool to accelerate innovation in the auto industry. Dr. Cole is Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research and a former Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan where he taught courses related to the automotive field for over 25 years. He is a fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers, Engineering Society of Detroit and Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was recently elected to the Automotive Hall of Fame.
One of the great challenges facing our economy today and into the future is the availability of an appropriately educated and skilled workforce. In a Wall Street Journal article on Ft. Wayne, Indiana we saw a snap-shot of a broader national issue: the shortage of talent in manufacturing regions. In Ft. Wayne they have high unemployment and a large number of job openings suggesting a mismatch between the needs and skills available. In fact one of the most severe shortages is for skilled trades and technicians, skills that are taught in a local community college. The community college in Ft. Wayne was using only about 70% of its capacity to educate young people in these disciplines.
In Michigan, at a recent Summit on Jobs organized by the governor, the number one shortage of talent in Michigan was skilled trades and technicians. In second place were engineers with mechanical/electrical abilities. One important fact about both of these is that you have to “get your hands dirty”. Another way of looking at it is that it doesn’t necessarily mean getting oil and grime on your hands and clothes but you really must know how things work and have a deep understanding of how things work in the real world of manufacturing.
Continue reading It’s Not a Sin to Get Your Hands Dirty